13 Aug 2020

Hutt Valley council-iwi housing partnership aims to boost ownership

11:56 am on 13 August 2020

Wellington iwi are hopeful a new housing partnership with the Hutt City Council will get more Māori in the city owning homes.

Representatives from Te Atiawa, Hutt City Council, Kahungunu Whānau Services signed a partnership to get more Māori into housing

Representatives from Te Atiawa, Hutt City Council, Kahungunu Whānau Services signed a partnership to get more Māori into housing. Photo: RNZ / Meriana Jonsen

The partnership was signed by representatives from Te Rūnanganui o Te Atiawa chair Kura Moeahu, Hutt mayor Campbell Barry, Kahungunu Whānau Services chief executive Ali Hamlin-Paenga and the Associate Minister for Housing (Māori) Nanaia Mahuta in Wellington.

About 1000 Māori were living in cold, damp houses in Lower Hutt, Barry said, and in the last six months 50 percent of those who had applied for emergency housing grants were Māori.

That is despite tangata whenua only making up 20 percent of the population.

"The key thing would be getting our whānau into homes who currently don't have them, and then it's about creating pathways to ensure there is an opportunity of home ownership at the end of that," Barry said.

Lower Hutt mayor Campbell Barry

Lower Hutt mayor Campbell Barry. Photo: RNZ / Meriana Jonsen

"So it's not just about going into a home and then being shifted out, it's about connecting to the community and having the opportunity to own that home at the end of it."

Rent-to-buy or shared equity schemes would be considered as ways to get Māori into home ownership, Barry said.

Urban Plus, the Hutt City Council's social housing provider, would work with Kahungunu Whānau Services and Te Atiawa on future housing projects, with an announcement expected in the coming months.

Te Rūnanga o Te Atiawa chair Kura Moeahu said through this partnership, the iwi wanted to be leading its own housing projects.

"We want to participate from the outset on projects, we want to be at the table from the beginning right through to the end," Moeahu said.

"We actually want to look at developing internships, we want to be providing educational opportunities so that our - rather than them coming to talk to us at every meeting - we can provide our team."

He would eventually like 50 percent of the council's housing budget, although he was sceptical that would happen in his lifetime.

Kahungunu Whānau chief executive Ali Hamlin-Paenga said the difference with this partnership was that home ownership was the end goal.

Kahungunu Whānau Services chief executive Ali Hamlin-Paenga

Kahungunu Whānau Services chief executive Ali Hamlin-Paenga. Photo: RNZ / Meriana Jonsen

"We're not in the business of working in desperation, we're in the business of self-determination of whānau."

She said that while whānau may be coming into the property through social housing, the goal was for them to achieve home ownership.

"We want to assist them and create that space for them to own that property without leaving that property," Hamlin-Paenga said.

The partnership was announced alongside the launch of the government's new Māori and Iwi Housing Innovation Framework (MAIHI), which received $40 million in this year's budget.

The framework sets out how the government will partner with iwi and Māori housing providers to address homelessness, create pathways to home ownership, and build up the Māori housing sector.

Te Matapihi lead advisor Wayne Knox

Te Matapihi lead advisor Wayne Knox. Photo: RNZ / Meriana Jonsen

Independent Māori housing advocacy trust Te Matapihi lead advisor Wayne Knox welcomed the MAIHI strategy, however, the $40m in funding did not go far enough, he said.

"It talks a lot about partnership, talks a lot about Māori being at the centre of planning and the level of investment that's required - so we're hopeful that it will achieve that."

While there had been a meaningful increase in the level of investment into Māori housing by this government, there were "a raft of other issues that still need to be addressed", including the difficulty for whānau in accessing finance for housing projects on Māori land, he said.

"They still haven't been addressed so we need to continue to shine a light on these other key challenges and barriers in terms of housing for Māori," Knox said.

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